The A-Z of Training: X is for Xenos

Posted by Adam Chester on 15/10/2014 at 09:00

X has been the hardest letter in our A-Z. We've had the dictionary out and picked Xenos the Greek word for stranger.

How many people in your organisation are strangers to the training department? We have been working with a national retail chain recently that estimated that some of their middle management have not undertaken any training in over 12 months.

I thought that this was interesting, especially considering how well structured the training programme was for in-store employees. The Learning and Development manager explained that with so many sites around the UK, having a clear programme was essential to ensure that new starters recieved all of the required training when they started.

Staff at Head Office were also well catered for, with a variety of both general and role specific training available to them. I'd say that this organisation were particularly on the ball, however the elephant in the room were the mobile staff, those who weren't based in a store or at Head Office.

Their unwillingness to attend training sessions stemmed from two factors; a perceived lack of time and also distance from the training locations. In addition regional management had for the most part been store managers before being promoted so had a good handle on procedures for a Store Managers and knew who to contact in Head Office where exceptional circumstances arrived.

The main issue was that there was a lack of a development plan for regional managers. We decided that a blended programme of management training would be a good development pathway and could provide excellent opportunities for building relationships with between the training department and mobile workers. Part of the programme included a two day residential stay at a central venue, which we hoped would give time for networking between regional managers.

Does your organisation have trainees who are strangers to the training department? How are you planning on getting them engaged?

The A-Z of Training: W is for Wonder

Posted by Adam Chester on 08/10/2014 at 10:31

Are your training sessions a wonder?

How do you want your learners to feel after particiating in one of your training courses? I hope that after a course, my learners are enthused by the topic taught and are ready to apply it at the next oppertunity. When designing a course, I look for points that the learner can put into practice straight away and then support these with demonstration or discussion.

While I try to make my sessions engaging, I do not want them to be the wonder in themselves. The star of the show should be the learning not the presenter!

How many of your learners are currently wondering about something?

If one of your employees was wondering about something where would they go? Perhaps they would ask a colleague, their line manager or catch you in the canteen at lunch. My suspicion is that this doesn't happen as often as it might. It might be out of fear of asking a silly question or not needing the information immediately and putting it off until they can speak to someone who can help.

This is where having some sort of searchable knowledgebase is a good idea, so that anyone can look up an answer to a question. This is a good first step, but extending this to a forum where people can ask questions and leave answers can help to build a community where people can access information that an be created by everyone, not just the training department.

The A-Z of Training: V is for Validation

Posted by Adam Chester on 01/10/2014 at 09:38

According to the dictionary on my computer, the word validate has three distinct meanings:

Definition of validate
I think that the first two are the most relevant for training, although the third is relevant in a compliance training context.

Validity in two dimensions

In order to be considered valid, I think that training activities must be measured in two dimensions. The first dimension is that is meets a business objective, the second is that the training delivered enables the participants to develop skills which aid the business objective.

There is a subtle difference between each of these in that the first dimension validates the existence of the training, while the second validates the effectiveness of the training delivery.

The business case

Identify the business case is easy for compliance related training- no training, no work. Developing training to improve the performance of an organisation needs careful needs analysis, and a clearly identified goal. Budgeting is also an important consideration here.

Evaluating the learning

Evaluating learning can be done in many ways from happy sheets to return on investment. I find that Kirkpatrick's model can be a useful guide for measuring learning.


The validity of training is more than just meeting the learning objectives. In some organisations the L&D director takes responsibility for the business case while instructional designers evaluate their students' outcomes to improve their materials. In other organisations both of these activities are the remit of the training manager.

How do you validate training in your organisation?

Autosaving Feedback

Posted by Adam Chester on 29/09/2014 at 15:04

Some of you have mentioned that you like writing feedback during an instructor led session rather than at the end.

To help with this we have added two features to the feedback page. Firstly there is now a save as draft button which means that you can leave the feedback page to add or remove an attendee part way through the day. All of you feedback will be ready to go when you come back

The second feature automatically saves your feedback every two minutes, so that if anything happens (pulling your laptop off the desk or spilling a bottle of water) your feedback won't be lost.

Autosave for feedback.

These were fantastic suggestions from our clients- if you know what you want from your LMS then please let us know!

The A-Z of Training: U is for Underdeveloped

Posted by Adam Chester on 25/09/2014 at 12:43

One of the biggest problems facing organisations today is developing their staff. This is a well-known issue to HR, Training, and Learning and Development managers, but making the organisation take notice can be tough.

The most common reason given for underdevelopment is cost, however I have found that it is more often the case that time is the limiting factor (see our article T is for Time). Where workforces have been pared back, it can be difficult to justify time for personal development where there are looming deadlines and a full week.

For the individual this leads to frustration, as their skills remain static, while they continue to perform the same role week after week. In fact lack of development opportunities is one of the key reasons that people leave positions- further increasing the load on the HR team.

A well thought out training needs analysis could help identify and prioritise areas for development. Tackling the highest priority items can lead to huge gains in performance and personal satisfaction.